Introduction: The following is an assignment for my Classical World Literature class. After reading Dante's Inferno, our "exam" was to write three cantos in the spirit of Dante's Inferno, but with a twist of creating our own Hell, deciding which sinners to use, and what their punishment should be based on Dante's psychological punishments of the sinners in Inferno. You'll also notice that at the end of each canto (other than this one), an explanation of the sin and the punishment of that sin is given - this is a requirement of the assignment, and I've decided to leave it in because, though I do like people to make up their own interpretations, I want my intention to be clear. Also, keep in mind the sins and the punishments do not reflect my beliefs and what I believe should happen in Hell, the assignment was to prove that I'd learned something from Dante and so I based my thinking while writing this on Dante's beliefs instead of my own. I got 100 percent on the assignment, but I'd be interested to hear what anyone else has to say about it, so comments and critique is welcome and encouraged.
I woke up in a subway car, nearly empty except for an old woman huddled in the seat across from me. She wore layer upon layer of dirty, raggedy clothes - a dress, a coat, a scarf, a shawl, a hat, torn gloves - and her wrinkled, old face was covered in soot and dirt. As the lights of the car flickered, she muttered in a low gravelly voice, "Lights flickering...rats clickering..." She looked up at me and smiled, revealing teeth that were rotted to the gums. "Oh, you're awake, eh? Ready for your tour through Hell?"
I shuddered and shook my head. "Hell? I'm dead?" Struggling to remember what had happened before I'd woken in the subway car, I drew a blank. Had I died?
The old woman cackled. "Not yet, you haven't, I'd reckon you've got a good sixty or seventy years left. Nah, you're just along for the ride this time." Her body shook disgustingly as she laughed again, and then she began to mutter to herself again as a large black rat skittered past her feet.
The subway squealed to a stop and my heart began to pound. A tour through Hell? I didn't know how to prepare myself. The doors slid open and the old woman groaned, her old body creaking with the effort of pulling herself out of her seat. "Come on, then," she grunted, pulling me up with surprising strength. She led me out to an old, abandoned subway station. It looked fairly normal, save for the fact it looked as if it hadn't been used for a few decades.
The woman waddled toward a door behind us. On the wall in graffiti read a message: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here." I shivered at the familiar words. The woman pulled open the door and stepped aside to show me our journey's beginning.
"I hope you don't mind long walks," the woman chirped in what she probably thought was a reassuring tone.
There were only stairs as far as I could see, descending into pitch black. I strained my eyes to try to see the end of the stairs, but there were none that I could see yet. The woman looked at me curiously, then rolled her eyes.
"I suppose you want me to lead the way, then?" she snorted. "Off we go then." She began her walk down the stairs and, hesitantly, seeing no other way, I followed her.